Deserted Elevator Shaft Hides Single-Room Street Museum


Like so many secret spaces of New York City, this one-room exhibit space (hidden inside an abandoned elevator) is not exactly on the beaten path.

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This pop-up project is naturally camouflaged, set behind a pair of rusted metal doors along an inconspicuous alley between a pair of dull gray block walls. Only a few small rectangular punched openings suggest that something might lurk beyond the black steel.

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Behind its unmarked entry lies a surprisingly pristine white room lined with red-padded shelves. These in turn support an array of contents, many of which city dwellers may find strangely familiar.

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The Elevator Museum‘s collection sports a sampling of everyday urban objects, from discarded coffee cups and potato chip bags to tip jars, found dollar bills and losing lottery tickets.

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The exhibits rotate, however, between temporary pieces and a permanent collection featuring some seriously unique and one-off objects. The latter includes the shoe infamously thrown at President George W. Bush during a televised 2008 press conference.

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The museum founders Alex Kalman, and brothers Benny and Josh Safdie “want [the] museum to relay the intimate stories behind strange, colloquial items, finding beauty in absurdity.” To construct their secret museum, “the team gutted the shaftway [at the ground floor] and renovated it to include lighting and shelving.”

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It has operating hours, but like most things in NYC, it is worth dropping by any time of the day or night: “Glass peepholes at the door allow passersby to marvel at the collectibles 24/7, and for those visitors who miss the museum’s opening hours, a toll free hotline has been developed that relays information about each exhibited artifact via phone. The 60 square-foot, free museum also accommodates a cafe and shop. It is a fitting microcosm of the essence of New York City, an unusual myriad of characters, quirks, and curiosities congregating in extremely small spaces.”